Karakorum 2009: Veikka Completes 8000m Quest

The weekend was suppose to be Summit Day on both the Gasherbrums and K2, and while conditions improved on one of those peaks, the other sent teams scrambling back down the hill.

The big news for the weekend is that Veikka Gustafsson has completed the 14 8000 meter peaks, topping out on Gasherbrum I on Sunday. Veikka becomes the 17th person to bag all of the world’s tallest peaks, and he completed the task without supplemental oxygen as well.

He and climbing partner Kazuya Hiraide set out from high camp just after midnight and arrived at the summit around 8 AM local time, where they were greeted with no winds and beautiful weather, and according to the latest dispatch from the mountain, both men are now safe and sound back in Base Camp.

Veikka and Kazuya’s summits weren’t the only ones on GI this weekend either, as several other teams topped out as well. ExWeb is reporting that the Bulgarian team of Nikolay Petkov, Doychin Boyanov, Boyan Petrov, and Nikolay Valkov all reached the summit on Sunday morning as well.

Meanwhile, over on K2, the weekend update isn’t so cheery. A number of teams attempted summit bids along both the Cesen Route and the Abruzzi Spur, but reports indicate that the conditions were too treacherous to proceed upward.

The likelihood of avalanches were extremely high, and the climbers decided that discretion was the better part of valor and turned back well before the summit on both routes. All the teams are headed back to BC, where they’ll regroup and reassess their chances of making the summit this season.

Kraig Becker

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